My Conversation with Danielle Morris, Owner of Phyto-Nola

 Danielle Morris is the owner of Phyto-Nola, she creates plant-based meals.

NM: Danielle, tell us about your journey and your relationship with food.

Danielle: My journey with food has really made me view life and the human body differently.  The human body is so forgiving and I’m grateful for that.  I was born and raised in New Orleans so by default I’m a foodie, but I find food within our culture to be a blessing and a curse. Traditional New Orleans cuisine has been the pulse of the city for years whether in times of hurt or celebration but it's so rich and loaded with unhealthy fats.  I experienced first hand how taxing that can be on the body.  For years I used food as a comforter to deal with personal hurts and in turn that only yielded more unhappiness- unhappiness in my relationships with people and unhappiness with my relationship with my body.  Eventually, I got tired of living this way and I was determined to make a change.  I started working out, changed my diet, and spent more time in nature.  I started reading more about the food and health industries and many things just didn't sit well with me.  If there was one book that did it for me it was "The Beauty Detox Solution" by Kimberly Snyder.  From there, I began to start incorporating more electric, high vibrational foods and every aspect of my life started to shift.  My relationship with food is a healthy one now and I only attract beautiful, healthy relationships.  I have a deeper connection with my spirituality as well.  I’m a co-creator of my life’s realities and the universe yields to me exactly what I’m vibrating.  I’ve been vegan now for a little over 3 years now and people always ask,"What changes have you seen since transitioning into being vegan?",   my response is, " I always feel high on life all the time. " They always say, "But Danielle you have always been a naturally bubbly person."  And I’m like, "Exactly, so can you, imagine that feeling times 10 going on inside of me!" (lol)  Don’t get me wrong, I still have days that are not my favorite, but they are few and far between.  

NM: What was your aha moment to create Phyto-Nola?

Danielle: I decided to create PhytoNola because I was getting such a large response to the food pictures that I was posting on social media.  So many people were asking how could they taste the food.  That’s how the Phyto-Nola Dinner Club got started.  I would host a private dining experience that was intended to inspire Nola foodies of all kinds who may be interested in evolving into a more plant-based lifestyle.  It was geared to wow not just the palates of herbivores, but pescatarians and carnivores as well.  Although a success, the dinner club has been hard to keep up with because of festivals, markets, weddings, and other private events that I’ve been catering for.  I hope to get one going for January because people have been asking for them especially surrounding many new documentaries around the food industry have been released. 

NM: As you know, I believe that plant-based botanicals can heal the skin. Tell me why you believe a plant-based diet can heal the body?

Danielle: A plant-based diet can and will heal the body.  Can you put candy in a car’s gas tank and expect for it to get you to your destination?  In the same fashion, if you want your body to run optimally, you have to provide it with the proper fuel, the proper nutrients.  Phytonutrients, in particular, are the immune systems of fruits and vegetables.  They make up the natural compounds in plants that protect them from germs, pests, and other environmental threats and toxins.  When ingested, these properties transfer to the human body and protects it from diseases, infections, and anything that potentially causes any "dis-ease" in the mind or body.  Our bodies deserve that.  They deserve to be treated well.  When you nourish your body with more of Nature’s immunity, you’re bound to experience her healing.

NM: How can people start to change their diet with more plant-based foods?

Danielle: It's definitely a slow process.  My advice is to be patient with yourself and your body.  Whatever your food goal is, be relentless in your pursuit of it until you get your stride.  I always advise people to just make more conscious decisions about what they intake and eat as many foods that are green as possible.  It’s not about deprivation, but it's about moderation.  And feel no judgment about it if you get off course.  This is your journey and everybody’s vibration needs something different.  No one has been given charge over what you consume except for you.  Just know that the cleaner your diet, the more your body will talk back to you when you indulge yourself.  

NM: As you know it the holidays, give us some plant-based alternatives that taste just as good as the traditional meals

Danielle: Green Bean Casserole, Stuffed Peppers, Eggnog, Cornbread Dressing. Stuffed peppers can be easily veganized with chopped mushrooms instead of meat.  I like to even give them a southwestern flair and add black beans with roasted corn and tomatoes.  If you combine all the ingredients with quinoa, it will bulk it up so you won't have to buy a lot of the other ingredients. For cornbread dressing, I don't add meat to my cornbread (in New Orleans cornbread dressing is made with gizzards and sausage), I just look it as a well-seasoned cornbread with a different texture.  As long as you season it well with celery, onions, and almond milk, it'll be good.  I like to even use a little fresh sage.  Fresh herbs are amazingly flavorful. 

NM: What is your "food" heroes?

Danielle: I would have to say avocados, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar, the vegan trinity.  If you don’t have these in your house, you just need to reevaluate life. 

NM: Where would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Danielle: I would love to land a contract with a school to provide healthier lunch options for kids.  Even if its just to implement plant-based options one day out of the week.  I’d be curious to hear how teachers describe how the students respond academically, socially, and behaviorally on those days when a plant-based meal is introduced.  I would bet money that they (teachers) would be asking for more plant-based lunch days.  

Vegan Eggnog.jpg
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Vegan Eggnog
Vegan Eggnog
  • 2 cups Almond Milk
  • 1 cup (soaked overnight or 3 hours) Cashews
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fresh Vanilla Bean or Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons Nutmeg
1. Blend all ingredients in a high power blender until smooth.2. Warm in a small pot on low-medium heat until it has reached your desired temperature.3. Add more spices to your liking. May be served cold as well.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 cups
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